In-office dental bleaching with light vs. without light: A systematic review and meta-analysis

J Dent. 2018 Mar:70:1-13. doi: 10.1016/j.jdent.2017.11.007. Epub 2017 Dec 29.


Objective: A systematic review and meta-analysis were performed to answer the following research question: Does light-activated in-office vital bleaching have a greater whitening efficacy and higher tooth sensitivity (TS) in comparison with in-office vital bleaching without light when used in adults?

Data and source: Only randomized clinical trials (RCTs) involving adults who had in-office bleaching with and without light activation were included. Controlled vocabulary and keywords were used in a comprehensive search for titles and abstracts in PubMed, and this search was adapted for Scopus, Web of Science, LILACS, BBO, Cochrane Library, and SIGLE without restrictions in May 2016 and was updated in August 2017. IADR abstracts (1990-2016), unpublished- and ongoing-trial registries, dissertations, and theses were also searched. The risk-of-bias tool of the Cochrane Collaboration was used for quality assessment. The quality of the evidence was rated using the Grading of Recommendations: Assessment, Development, and Evaluation approach. Through the use of the random effects model, a meta-analysis with a subgroup analysis (low and high hydrogen peroxide concentration) was conducted for color change (ΔE*, ΔSGU) as well as the risk and intensity of TS.

Study selection: We retrieved 6663 articles, but after removing duplicates and non-relevant articles, only 21 RCTs remained. No significant difference in ΔE*, ΔSGU, and risk and intensity of TS was observed (p > .05). For ΔE and risk of TS, the quality of the evidence was graded as moderate whereas the evidence for ΔSGU and intensity of TS was graded as very low and low, respectively.

Conclusion: Without considering variations in the protocols, the activation of in-office bleaching gel with light does not seem to improve color change or affect tooth sensitivity, regardless of the hydrogen peroxide concentration. (PROSPERO - CRD42016037630).

Clinical relevance: Although it is commercially claimed that in-office bleaching associated with light improves and accelerates color change, this study did not confirm this belief for in-office bleaching gels with either high or low levels of hydrogen peroxide.

Keywords: Light activation; Meta-analysis; Systematic review; Tooth bleaching.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Databases, Factual
  • Dental Offices*
  • Dentin Sensitivity
  • Humans
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / radiation effects
  • Hydrogen Peroxide / therapeutic use
  • Light / adverse effects*
  • Tooth Bleaching / methods*
  • Tooth Bleaching Agents / radiation effects
  • Tooth Bleaching Agents / therapeutic use


  • Tooth Bleaching Agents
  • Hydrogen Peroxide